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Righteous Suffering: The Gift of Lament

 

This past Sunday, we walked through one of the darkest passages in all of the Bible. In Job 3, Job is lamenting the tragedy that has befallen him. This chapter requires that we ask hard questions about the life of a believer and if there is a place for despondency, despair, grief and hopelessness? Further, if that is true, how is it that we bring that honestly before the Lord? In Job 3, we see: In our suffering and despair we are best served to honestly lament before the Lord.

 

  1. Job Curses the Day of His Birth: v.3-10

Here, Job curses his birth and his conception. This is Job’s way of lamenting the disappointment, frustration and hurt within his life. What is noteworthy is found in who Job doesn’t curse; namely God. Here we see the valuable lesson of honest expression, while holding in tension the supremacy of God in our lives.

 

  1. Job Laments His Life: v.11-19

Job moves from cursing his birth to lamenting his life. One of the distinguishing characteristics of lament is a sense of confusion and disorientation. This is why we see Job asking “why” so many times. More specifically in these verses, we see Job seeking relief and respite from the brokenness that surrounds and engulfs him. Certainly, we can all relate to this at some level. Then Job laments his powerlessness in this situation.

 

  1. Job Cries Out in His Pain: v.20-26

Job then moves to crying out in his pain. He feels trapped in this situation and cries out around his desperate state. The tragedy in his life feels as if it is chasing him down.

 

  1. Lament is a Gift for Us:

Given what we have seen in Job 3, we found it important to recognize the ways in which lament is a gift for us. Make note of some of the ways that lament becomes a gracious gift that God gives us as we navigate tragedy, loss, hardship, disappointment and brokenness.

Lament Frees Us: Lament frees us in a few ways. One, it frees us to be honest with God. Instead of pretending that everything is ok, we come before God and honestly express ourselves. Secondly, lament frees us to heal. It’s through the process of lament that God uses this prayerful expression to bring healing and restoration to us.

Lament Challenges Us: Lament challenges us to be honest about our world and our lives. It requires that we face the brokenness of the world and see it for what it is. It not only challenges us in our lives; it requires that for us as believers, we’re willing to walk alongside others who find themselves in difficult seasons.

Lament Exposes Us: Lament leaves us bare and exposed; and in doing so, brings that which we’re struggling with into the light where we can begin to truly address and deal with issues.
Lament Holds Us Accountable: Finally, lament is a gift in that it thrusts us into action. When we lament, it takes us from the sidelines into the game. In this, it moves us from complacency into action.

 

  1. Work the Process from Lament to Worship: Psalm 10

We closed our time by trying to put some handles on lament and how we could take what we are seeing in Job 3, and employee and utilize that in our lives when appropriate. To do so, we went to Psalm 10 and used that as a template to help us see the process of lament play out.

We Choose to Face God: v.1 Lament begins when we choose to face God. We don’t know all of the issues that the Psalmist is disoriented about, but he comes and brings his issues to God. As we see the brokenness of the world unfolding in our lives, the first step is for us to come and face God.

We Express an Honest Complaint: v.2-11 Here, the Psalmist expresses an honest complaint. He expresses a number of complaints. God is not surprised by our struggles; but there is something that He has in mind that we come and bring them before Him.

We Ask God to Act: v.12-15 The Psalmist then asks God to act. Note, that he asks God to act in accordance with God’s character. For many of us, our issue isn’t in asking God to act, it’s that we want to start here. Yet in God’s desired pathway, we must first face God and express an honest complaint before we move to the place of asking God to act. It may be that God wants us to see Him, His character and person first, so that we are asking in accordance with that, and not simply from our own desires.

We Trust God’s Character: v.16-18 Finally, the Psalmist shows us that we are to trust God’s character. The end of the Psalm has a completely different feel than the beginning of it. What has changed? It’s unlikely that the circumstances have changed. What’s far more likely is that the Psalmist has been reminded of God’s character, and places an abiding trust in God even though their circumstances have not been remedied. This may be a difficult thing for us to do, but is necessary for us as we wait for God’s ultimate vindication while continuing to live in a broken world.

 

 

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